Mbalula remarks reflect how Zimbos are weighing on SA’s public service delivery

Letters to the Editor

NOTWITHSTANDING massive infrastructure projects and other developmental initiatives being undertaken in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean development question remains debatable.

A majority of the ongoing initiatives are proving to be insufficient in capturing the reality of the challenges being faced by the citizens.

This scenario leaves many wondering whether government is deliberately not prioritising issues affecting the citizens, culminating in colossal migration in search of greener pastures.

There is no consensus on the exact number of Zimbabweans that have left the country in search of greener pastures. Nonetheless, it is believed that approximately four to seven million Zimbabweans have left the country since 2000.

Although stating with precision the exact figure remains highly problematic, five million is generally accepted. About one million of them are in South Africa. Bloomberg concurs with the above by stating that 85% of the Zimbabwean diaspora population is in South Africa. At the same time, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Fikile Mbalula alleged that “Zimbabwe as a country has moved to South Africa, from Gugulethu to Khayelitsha, Sandton to Camps Bay, Umhlanga to Free State” due to political, social and economic challenges.

In this regard, it is critical to give a glimpse reflection on some of the challenges that have caused the migration of Zimbabweans to the diaspora.

Zimbabwe is engulfed by a myriad of political challenges that have successfully undermined democracy. Some of these challenges include but are not limited to the weaponisation of the law, abductions, political prosecution, illegalising opposition political gatherings to mention but a few.

The passing of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill in the National Assembly and the Patriot Bill further shrinks the civic space, which is a prerequisite for the growth of democracy.

Political prosecutions and weaponisation of the law deter people from political participation, it subtly borders on authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

The abuse of State security apparatus to further a political agenda has proven to be problematic in Zimbabwe. The 2000 and 2008 political violence serves as a clear testimony and a reason why many left Zimbabwe in search of political asylum.

Vote rigging has not brought anything better except further isolation in the international community, thereby undermining political and economic collaborations that promote national growth and transformation.

Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown started in the late 1990s and since then, it has never recovered. Some of the economic challenges include, but are not limited to, economies of affection, high and unsustainable debt-to-GDP ratio, high fiscal deficit, currency distortion, high inflation rate, meagre wages, three-tier pricing, limited availability of foreign currency, corruption in tender processes and high unemployment rate to mention but a few.

All these economic challenges have left the ordinary citizen vulnerable and their livelihoods undermined. A good example is that of the 2008 hyperinflation which wiped away the value of pensions and up to today, pensioners have never recovered.

According to the 2022 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report, approximately 38% of rural households are food insecure, a number that is disputable if one is to consider that more than half of the entire country is in extreme poverty.

Matabeleland North province has the highest food insecurity with 58% of households in need of food support. Some of the areas within the same province with the most insecure households are Hwange, which has 73%, Binga (71%) and Buhera (75%). In giving a holistic assessment, ZimVAC puts the total number of individuals in need of food assistance at 5,6 million out of a total population of 16,6 million.

The Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency (ZimStat) supports the above verdict by indicating that “91% of Zimbabweans can no longer afford protein-rich food such as meat and are largely surviving on vegetables such as rape, covo, and chomolia, among others they can now afford”.

Therefore, given the above scenario, one might argue that hunger has caused many Zimbabweans to flee the country.

On the issue of drug abuse, there is no consensus on the number of youths involved in drugs, figures fluctuate between 57% and 53,8%, but what is clear is that over 50% of youth are victims of drug abuse. At the same time, the World Health Organisation’s report titled Mental Health Among Young People in African Region states that Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to 19-year-olds in Africa who engage in heavy “episodic drinking”, at 70,7% among males and 55,5%14 among females.

Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is more than 60% with the majority of the citizens in the informal sector. The 2022 First Quarter Labour Force Survey Report by ZimStat concluded that 2,5 million youth between the age of 15 and 34 are unemployed. One and a half million of the 2,5 million aged between 15 and 24 had a national expanded unemployment rate of 66%, while the national expanded unemployment rate for youths aged between 15 and 34 years was 57%.

The youths account for over 80% of the Zimbabwean population yet they are the most marginalised and vulnerable group of the population. Thus, leaving in search of greener pastures is the only hope for the youth and the Zimbabwean unemployed population.

Public service delivery has collapsed in Zimbabwe, with government failing to provide basic services. Health services are in disarray, with dilapidated and infrastructure gaps. The same applies to water and sanitation. The 2022 ZimVAC report noted that lack of access to clean and safe water remains high, a situation that exposes Zimbabweans to medieval diseases such as cholera.

The situation is worsened by government’s failure to provide adequate public transport. At the same time, local authorities are failing to collect refuse. Government’s failure to provide service delivery is largely due to the collapse of the public sector, which has now become a haven of corruption, mismanagement, favouritism, and tender-partnership. - Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development

Swedish govt must prevent anti-Qur'an gatherings, apologise to Muslims

THE recent move by the Swedish court to issue permission to anti-Islam extremists to desecrate the Holy Qur’an outside the main mosque in the capital city of Stockholm on the day of Eid al-Adha, under the pretext of freedom of speech, has once again revealed the obvious anti-Islamism of the government and security apparatus of this European country.

This brazen act has raised the anger of Muslims around the world. It is a known fact that keywords such as “freedom of expression” and “right to express opinion” — instead of being used in the way of protecting ethics and human rights — are, in fact, used as a tool and an excuse to fight such principles.

Surprisingly, while the Swedish authorities have regarded the burning of the holy book of Muslims as “freedom of expression”, it has referred to the protest against this offensive and intolerable act as an example of “the violation of freedom of expression”.

This decision made by the Swedish court reflects the purposeful and fully conscious anti-Islam objective that the overt and covert movements in the West have been trying to establish for years.

Undoubtedly, Muslim nations consider preserving the sanctity of the Holy Qur'an as the red line that should not be crossed and will never remain silent in the face of offensive acts like what is happening in Sweden.

The Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation strongly condemns the desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden and asks the Swedish government to prevent anti-Qur’an gatherings and apologise to the Muslims of the world for violating their religious sanctities and insulting their religious emotions.

Systematic and brazenly designed anti-Islam and anti-Qur’an moves in the decision-making and policy-making system of Sweden will eventually result in the expansion of hatred in this country to the detriment of the Swedish government and security institutions.

A change in the existing trend and replacing it with a constructive and interactive approach towards the Islamic world can lead to the prevalence of peace and justice. - Cultural Centre of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Zimbabwe

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